Although she stood at 10th place in the final of 3000 m steeplechase on Monday, Lalita Babar made history by becoming the first athlete after PT Usha to participate in final of a track event. Years ago when Lalita moved from Kho-Kho field to athletics little she knew that she will be reckoned as the Maandeshi Express of India. Born and brought up in drought hit Mann region in Satara district it wasn’t easy for Lalita to make her way to Olympics.
Her father is a driver who had social pressure to marry her elder daughter Lalita as soon as possible. But destiny had something else for Lalita. Special arrangements were made in the Mohi village, where the Babar family lives, to watch the final of steeplechase. Many of the villagers are not even aware what steeplechase means but there was no room for movement in the school where special telecast was going on. The economic status posed no obstacle for the Maandheshi Express in realizing her dream of representing India at Olympics.
Like other stories from Indian sports, the journey of Lalita from her home to realizing her Olympics dream has seen higher hurdles than the ones she has crossed efficiently in her steeplechase career. Eldest of four siblings, Lalita had lot of social pressure to prove herself time and again, for a career which hardly people from her village knew about. Today her parents are not the only ones proud of Lalita but also her sisters who joined police services, as well as the village she belongs to. Lalita has a lot of time to rest before her next track and field event but she is certainly not going to lose out on her quest to be a medalist for India at International events.